State traffic deaths on the decline

Published 7:06 am Thursday, July 22, 2010

Minnesota is on pace to have its lowest number of traffic deaths since 1944, the state’s public safety department reported earlier this week.

This is despite at least three weekend deaths that pushed the 2010 total to 204. However, the state had 214 at this time in 2009, which was also a record-low year.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety projects 400 deaths for the year, a figure that would meet the goal of the state’s core traffic safety initiative — Toward Zero Deaths — of 400 or fewer deaths for 2010. There were 421 deaths in 2009.

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“Minnesota has achieved real progress in recent years in limiting road deaths, and we are on pace to continue this trend,” said Cheri Marti, director of the DPS Office of Traffic Safety, in a press release. “We call on all motorists to exercise safe driver behavior to stop preventable deaths.”

Traffic deaths across the state have been on a steady decline in recent years. There were 625 traffic deaths in Minnesota in 2000, and the state had more than 600 as recently as 2003. Figures from 2008 and 2009 represent the smallest totals during the past decade.

In Mower County, numbers have remained fairly low over the past five years. In 2005, there was just one traffic death in the county. That was followed by five in 2006, two in 2007, four in 2008 and two in 2009. Both of the 2009 deaths involved motorcycle crashes.

The state reports that 15 motorcyclists have died on Minnesota roads so far this year.